Home to the world-famous Wineglass Bay, Freycinet National Park protects 169 square kilometres of rugged Freycinet Peninsula coastline dominated by pink granite mountains and idyllic bays with white sandy beaches. One of the best ways to explore the park is to take a few walks through its stunning landscape.
There are some spectacular walks in Freycinet National Park, from easy 10-minute strolls to steep mountain climbs, and multi-day hiking adventures. But if you are visiting Freycinet as part of your Tasmanian East Coast road trip and only have one day in the park, then taking a few shorter walks may be the way to go.
Freycinet National Park is home to 4 of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks and you can easily do all of them in a day. The longest of the 4 is the Wineglass Bay and Hazards Beach walk – an 11-km circuit that takes 4-5 hours to complete. If it sounds a bit much, you can easily do a shorter version of this track, the Wineglass Bay Lookout walk, one of the most famous walks in Tasmania.
Here is a guide to 4 Great Short Walks you can do in one day at Freycinet National Park. It also includes some of the particularly stunning spots to explore along the way, and tips on finding wildlife in Freycinet.
How to Get to Freycinet from Hobart
Freycinet National Park is just over 168 kilometres (2.5 hrs) northeast of Hobart (via A3) which makes it a nice long day trip. If you are looking for a stopover (and a bit of a detour) on the way, you can visit the charming historic town of Richmond and check out the famous Richmond Bridge. Built in 1825, Richmond Bridge is the oldest bridge in Australia that is still in use. There are, of course, more things to do in Richmond if you are not in a hurry.
It is possible to visit Freycinet on a day trip from Hobart and still do at least 3 of the walks in this guide. You can also do some of these walks on a day tour to Freycinet from Hobart or from Launceston. Both tours include Wineglass Bay Lookout Walk and Cape Tourville Lighthouse Walk. I have done a tour from Hobart a couple of years ago and it was a full and adventurous day and good value for money. Not having to drive 2.5 hours each way made it quite an enjoyable day.
However, to truly experience this stunning landscape, it’s best to stay overnight in Freycinet and enjoy the full day of walking trails. Especially, considering that Freycinet is home to some of Tasmania’s finest eco-lodges.
Freycinet National Park Accommodation
You can check all the accommodation options for Freycinet National Park accommodation here on Booking.com – it is regularly updated with the latest deals and traveller reviews. Or check out the cream of the crop options below.
Freycinet Lodge – Luxury
Freycinet National Park is home to one of Australia’s most famous eco-lodges – the multi-award-winning Freycinet Lodge. This gorgeous lodge is the seamless blending of natural simplicity and sophisticated comfort. For something extra special, check out the Coastal Pavilion. Check Freycinet Lodge availability here.
Tip: If you are a member of NRMA or RACT you will receive a 25% discount. Or a 15% discount if you have an interstate or international auto club membership
Piermont Retreat – Luxury
On the opposite side of the bay, in Swansea, Piermont Retreat exudes understated luxury that effortlessly coexists with the stunning nature of Freycinet, providing a comfortable sense of home in the wild. The resort has sweeping views across Great Oyster Bay and two private beaches, as well as an outdoor pool by the shore. Check Piermont Retreat availability here.
Belmont Homestead – Mid Range
If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option and don’t mind a bit of a drive from the National park, the historic Belmont Homestead offers an atmospheric farm-stay option. In addition to the 1892 homestead, the property has a variety of rooms, a cottage, and a charming gypsy van with gorgeous views of the river, all set within a lush garden. Check Belmont Homestead availability here.
Freycinet Waters – Mid Range
For those seeking an affordable option right on the bay, Freycinet Waters in Swansea is a cute B&B that offers a selection of rooms with either a patio or a balcony. Some rooms have ocean views or a spa bath. And Swansea’s shops, cafes, and restaurants are a short stroll away. Check Freycinet Waters availability here.
Friendly Beaches Great Short Walk
5 minutes to 5 hours, 100m to 5km, Grade 2
The gateway to Freycinet National Park is the layback seaside village of Coles Bay. But if you are planning to do all 4 Great Short Walks in Freycinet, then your adventure starts at Friendly Beaches, before you reach Coles Bay driving from Hobart.
To get to Friendly Beaches, turn right from A3 to Coles Bay Road, follow it for 8.5km, turn left onto Friendly Beaches Road and drive for another 4km to the beach.
If you are visiting in the morning, especially in winter, before you head to the beach, take a walk around the campsite – you are likely to spot some Bennett’s Wallabies busking in the sun to warm up after a cold night.
Once you are ready for a walk, head for the beach. A 10-meter boardwalk from the carpark takes you to a viewpoint and another 10 meters of stairs take you down to the sand. And once you hit that incredibly soft white sand you’ll want to continue exploring.
You can head south towards Friendly Point and Freshwater Lagoon. There is nothing between you and the lagoon but 7.8 km of sandy beach with some rocky outcrops and tidal pools to explore along the way.
These beaches are home to nesting shorebirds like hooded plovers, red-capped plovers, pied oystercatchers, fairy terns, and little terns. If you visit in the summer months between October and March, make sure to walk close to the waterline to avoid disturbing the birds.
This walk doesn’t have a designated finish. You can walk all the way to Freshwater Lagoon or turn around at any point you like. I would suggest spending around an hour on the beach – there is plenty more walking to do in Freycinet in a day.
When you are done at the beach, head back to Coles Bay Road and follow it to town. Just before you reach Coles Bay, you’ll get your first glimpse of Freycinet’s famous pink granite mountains reflected in the still water of the bay.
If you notice some pink discolouration in the water that at first glance looks like pollution, don’t worry, it is anything but. This is what bioluminescent plankton looks like in daylight hours. It is a rare enough occurrence and if you spot the plankton during the day, you’ll know where to come looking for it at night (if you happen to be staying overnight in the area).
One interesting thing about Cole Bay is that in 2013 it became the first town in Australia to ban the use of plastic shopping bags.
Wineglass Bay Lookout Great Short Walk
1-1.5 hours return, 2.6 km return, Grade 3
Chances are, you came to Freycinet to see one of Tasmania’s most celebrated views— the curvaceous white beach and crystal-clear waters of Wineglass Bay and the isthmus that separates Wineglass Bay from Hazards Bay. While the isthmus is only partially visible from Wineglass Bay lookout (you’ll need to hike to the top of Mt Amos to get a full view), the view of the bay itself and the rugged granite peaks is absolutely spectacular.
To see this postcard view requires some work – you need to climb 214 meters to the lookout perched in the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. The trail is quite steep in places but it is not difficult to walk. And since it is one of the most popular walks in Freycinet National Park, it means that it is suitable for all ages. The trail is well constructed with sections of stone steps in the steeper terrain. It takes most people 30-45 minutes to reach the top.
To reach the start of the trail from Coles Bay, head to Wineglass Bay car park (4.4 km along Freycinet Drive). From the car park, the Wineglass Bay Walk shares its starting point with the longer Hazards Beach and Mt Amos walks. So make sure to follow the signs to Wineglass Bay lookout.
But before you leave the car park area, have a look around the bushes – you are likely to spot some sunbathing Bennett’s wallabies here.
You may also notice a large pile of sticks with a sign next to it. Spend a minute reading the sign. This pile of sticks represents a nest of a White-bellied sea eagle. It takes over 30 years for a pair of eagles to build a nest of this size. It took three months for the visitors to Wineglass Bay lookout to collect and discard the sticks that make up this pile. So something as innocent as picking up a walking stick along the trail may actually make it harder for the eagles to find building materials for their nests.
As you start climbing the trail towards Wineglass Bay lookout, you first arrive at Coles Bay lookout about 20 minutes into the walk. This is a good opportunity to catch your breath and enjoy some of the views of the Tasmanian east coast.
From Coles Bay lookout, continue your ascent, passing underneath the rugged granite peaks, past an interesting rock that looks remarkably like a cartoon whale.
Once you reach the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson, you are only a few minutes away from your destination. If you feel like you need a break, there is a lovely wooden bench here. Otherwise, continue for just a few more hundred meters and you will reach the sprawling Wineglass Bay lookout backed by a huge granite outcrop with the amazingly clear waters of the bay glistening in the sun below you.
While the view of Wineglass Bay is downright idyllic, the history of its name has a sinister side to it. In the days when the whaling industry was booming in Tasmania, the whalers would come to this bay to slice whale carcasses open to extract the valuable oil. The whales’ blood would fill the bay giving it the appearance of a glass of red wine.
Thankfully, these days are well behind us and today you can spot passing humpbacks during their epic migration between Antarctica and the warm tropical waters off the Queensland coast.
Wineglass Bay & Hazards Beach Great Short Walk
4-5 hours return, 11 km return, Grade 3
If you have enough time and energy, take the extended Wineglass Bay & Hazards Beach Walk from Wineglass Bay lookout. You’ve already done the hard work of climbing to the highest point on this walk. Not only will this walk give you a chance to dig your toes into the pristine white sand of Tasmania’s most famous beach, but it’ll also take you across the Isthmus that you can see from the lookout to the gorgeous Hazards beach on the other side. And you will be walking downhill most of the time!
To start the descent to Wineglass Bay Beach, return to the junction with the beach trail that you passed on the way up when you reached the saddle between Mt Amos and Mt Mayson. The descent along the tree-lined trail is quite steep but the trail is well maintained and the forest canopy shelters you from the sun. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the heavenly Wineglass Bay beach and once you do, you’ll forget all about the steep trail.
The beach is gorgeous and it feels miles away from anywhere. While you don’t get that same perfect arch perspective of the beach as you do from a high vantage point, here you can enjoy the view of the magnificent pink granite slabs that frame the lookout. For the best views, walk towards the southern end of the beach before resuming the trail.
Once you can tear yourself away from Wineglass Bay beach, follow the Isthmus track north towards the more secluded Hazards beach and discover what’s hiding on the other side of the Isthmus. It takes about 45 min to reach Hazards beach. If you brought a packed lunch, this is the perfect spot for a picnic.
From Hazards beach, follow the track north, along the coastline on the western side of the peninsula past virtually deserted sandy coves with gorgeous views of Great Oyster Bay. This is a great place for a dip if you don’t mind the cold water.
The last section of the track travels uphill, but it’s not a very long stretch and it brings you right back to Wineglass Bay car park.
This is an easy walk to do on your own, but if you like to learn about the history and the environment of the area as you explore, you might like to join a 5.5 hour guided walk to Hazards beach that leaves from Freycinet Lodge.
Honeymoon Bay Detour
As stunning as Wineglass Bay is it is not the only beautiful bay in Freycinet. Just two kilometres away from Wineglass Bay car park, Honeymoon Bay is an absolute gem. Tiny in comparison to most other bays in the park, Honeymoon Bay is surrounded by jagged mountains, their pink granite bulk casting a warm hew over the landscape.
And it’s a two-minute stroll from the car park, which is a welcome perk after having climbed to Wineglass Bay lookout.
The bay is another stunning picnic spot. And it is an absolutely magnificent spot for seeing bioluminescent plankton at night – another perk for staying overnight in Freycinet.
Cape Tourville Great Short Walk
20 min circuit, 600 meters, Grade 1
Cape Tourville walk is one of the easiest walks in Freycinet National Park. It is basically a walk in the park only with spectacular views of the granite coastline of Freycinet.
But while this walk might be short, it packs enough stunning coastal scenery to be a must-do in Freycinet. Most of the walk is on a raised boardwalk which makes it even easier to walk and plentiful signage along the way means that you’ll always know what you are looking at.
As you follow the boardwalk along the rocky coastline (counterclockwise), first you come to a fabulous view of the weathered granite cliffs of Carp Bay jutting out in front of Wineglass Bay with Mt Freycinet and Mt Graham rising on the other side.
In the second half of the walk you will come across the Nuggets, a group of four granite islets that are home to thousands of migratory birds.
As you stare out to the horizon here, what you can’t see below the surface is the continental shelf dropping about 5 km to the abyssal plain. That plain is interrupted by three enormous underwater volcanic seamounts that are higher than any mountains on land in Australia.
These waters are home to Common and Bottlenosed dolphins, Australian and New Zealand fur seals, humpback whales during their migration, albatrosses as well as huge numbers of other sea birds like Australian garnets.
Near the end, the trail loops around the unmanned and automatic Cape Tourville lighthouse that was built in 1971 and returns to the car park.
And there you have it, 4 different gorgeous walks in Freycinet National Park that allow you to explore different sides of this stunning stretch of coastline. You can easily do all three walks on a day trip from Hobart and have plenty of time to sample some local fish and chips or oysters at Coles Bay.
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